tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN December 26, 2011 12:00pm-1:10pm EST
standing here like a fool in high-heeled shoes at 77 years of age. [applause] [cheers] so, you see, i knew dr. king. and to talk about dr. martin luther king is to talk about hope. the first time i met him in the early 1960's, when i was about 12 -- [laughter] i was really struck by what a quiet man he was. always seemed quiet, but the first time i heard him speak, suddenly, it was is it if he was bringing up fire of hope over all of us -- it was as if he was bringing a fire of hope
over all of us. we all needed, desperately, a man like dr. king to turn our hopes and dreams into action. he aroused in us a total commitment to his dream, which drew 1/4 of a million of us here in 1963. in those days, i must confess that i was afraid to come to washington, because it was the south and it operated like the south. i was of little girl from new york, and not always scared the hell -- i was a little girl from new york and that always scared the hell out of me. i can remember good reason for it feeling that way. taking the train from new york
to visit my grandmother in north carolina -- and it was here in our nation's capital that the conductor would ask me and my family to move to the "colored" car. and i asked my mother why? what have i done? nothing, she replied. and dr. king said, nothing was not enough. we had to start doing something. and thanks to him, the hope he inspired, we did, and we are. i was introduced it to dr. king in brooklyn, one evening before we were to make an appearance on a radio program. he was very young and so was i.. -- i. because i was a young mother at
the time, i felt old enough to ask him why a man with a family, with the white and children, was willing -- with a wife and children, willing to live as a hunted man. even back in the 1960's, we all felt we would -- he would never lead to see his grandchildren. i will not forget, ever in my lifetime, the expression on his face when he explained that he had already put his house in order, that his wife and children chose to walk with him on this journey every step of the way. my grandmother from north carolina would be the first to remind us that even moses did not make it to the promised land. his god-given purpose was to show us the way.
i say it was the same with dr. king, who showed us the way. [applause] and all his children and all his grandchildren are here to continue his journey together every step of the way. i remember the day that we met because it was a little talk show, in the back of a nightclub in brooklyn. i thought, "why is he here? i do not understand. this is really not a very important talk-show." but he went almost every night wherever he could speak his word. and i will love him until the day i die. his memory is something that continues, at this ton in in life -- this time in my life, to give me the strength and the
courage to move on, to not stop. i do not want to be satisfied with the little television show that i did, and i was a star, but i was pleased to be there. now i am no longer please. we have to own the damn station. [applause] thank you. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the secretary treasurer of the american federation of state, county, and municipal employees, lee sonders. >> sisters and brothers, democracy grants each of us a seat at the table of politics and civic life. the force that should level the playing field, the promise that our voices cannot be drowned out by the powerful or the wealthy or the well-connected.
i am proud to represent the 1.6 million members of my union, afscme, workers to strengthen our democracy by virtue of the jobs they perform every day in every single community across this country. in 1968, dr. king took his struggle for full democracy to memphis, tennessee, on behalf of 1300 sanitation workers, afscme mmembers -- members. the workers were demanding respect, fairness, demanding to be heard. the fight in memphis became dr. king's last. he went because he understood the connection between workers' rights and civil rights. those striking sanitation workers were not simply fighting for better pay and safer working conditions. they were asserting a claim on our democracy. but today's attacks on workers
rights and voters rights tell us the fight for democracy is not over. victories that for decades in the making could be undone with the government -- a governor's signature, legislative vote, or, yes, our own apathy. it could make it more difficult for millions of us to pass the vote. they denigrate the democratic principles on which we stand. but we cannot, we cannot be discouraged. too much remains to be done. dr. king issued a clarion call, a call for equality, a call to make democracy reality for all of god's children, because we're standing on his legacy, we must continue his fight for the riches of freedom and security of justice. you know, there was a pastor in
germany, an anti-nazi activist, who once said, first they came for this socialists and i did not speak out, because i was not a socialist. then they came for the trade unionists, and i did not speak our of because i was i not -- out because i was not a trade unionist. then they came for the jews and i did not speak out because i was not a jew. then tehy ca -- they came for me and there was no one left to speak. sisters and brothers, we must always speak out. we must let our voices be heard loud and clear. we are not resting. we are not resting in the shadow of the king memorial.
we are marching on! we're marching on till victory is won! together, let's restore democracy. let's restore the american dream! [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome their rev. al sharpton -- the reverend al sharpton. [applause] >> thank you. we're here today to dedicate this memorial, but let us not be confused -- this is not a monument of those times past. this is not a memorial to someone who has passed into history and that is dead. this is a marker for the fight for justice today and a
projection for the fight for justice in the future, because we will not stop until we get the equal justice dr. king fought for. dr. king was not just a historic figure. he was a conduit of the spirit of justice. justice had been denied in those times. he brought us from the back of the boss. he brought us to voting rights. but we must continue to fight for justice today. justice is not trying to change the voting rights act and deny us in 34 states our right to vote. justice is not executing people on recanted testimony. justice is not sending children to school that are not -- schools that are not funded. justice is not 1 percent of the country controlling 40% of the wealth.
just like dr. king talked about occupying washington, just as those who are occupying wall street, we're going to occupy and take those in that stand up for justice and retire those that stand in the way. [applause] we are here to say that you're going to continue marching in the spirit -- we are going to continue marching in the spirit of dr. king. we marched through the streets yesterday. we gave one message. you will not undo the king during duty will not take away the voting rights act. you will not -- you will not undo the king -- you will not take away the voting rights act. you want us to balance the budgets on what is our entitled
programs. you want to mess with the social security of our seniors. that's why, when we up to vote, do not make this a partisan. when you mess with social security, this is not obama -- about obama, this is about our mama! it are going to vote like we have never voted before -- we are going to vote like we have never voted. when we come to the stone of hope, let them come from all over the world to this stone of hope. were you fight in europe, in the middle east, africa, come here to the king monument and see the stone of hope. and when you walk through, you will see a man standing because we have hope and faith, faith
that fed us when we were hungry, faith that clothed us when we were nekkid, faith that brought us to the white house from the we come here a trusting in the lord alone, his holy way. he never, he never, he never failed us yet! [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome marian wright edelman. [applause] >> we honor dr. king today in granite, but what's important is that we honor him tomorrow and every day, for as long as it takes, in transformed
values, voices for justice, unrelenting nonviolent action to rescue his dream and america's managing dreams from the clutches -- vanishing dreams from the clutches of militarism, racism, and poverty that he warned would undo america. in his last sunday sermon at washington's national cathedral, dr. king retold the parable of the rich man who ignored the poor man, lazarus, who came every day sicking crumbs from the table. the richman went to -- rich man went to hell, not because he was rich, but because he did not realize is wealth was his opportunity to bridge the gulf separating him from his brother and allowed lazarus to become
invisible. he warned this could happen in america. if we do not use her vast resources to end party and -- poverty and make it possible for all of god's children to have the basic necessities of life. when he called for the poor people's campaign in 1968, we had about 25 million poor people, including 11 million children. today, we have 46.2 million poor people, including 16.4 million poor children, who are the poorest age group. where is your voice to say, stop children falling into poverty? why have we normalized and let our leaders normalize child poverty and homelessness and hunger in america? stand up and speak up for your
children and their future. honor dr. king by committed action to end job poverty. i have no doubt he would be calling for another poor people's campaign for jobs and income today, and we need to close the obscene gulf between rich and poor been in our country, where the 400 highest- income earners made as much as the combined tax revenues of 22 states. they do not need a tax cut. speak up and make sure they do not take more from poor children. i will just tell you, do not as think we cannot move all of this progress -- do not think we cannot lose all of this progress. if we do not break the cradle- to-prison pipeline, we will have a new apartheid in america. speak up and rest your children from the prison-industrial complex. -- rescue your children from the prison-industrial complex. the day after dr. king was
shot, i went into a washington d.c. neighborhood, urging children not to move. at 12-year-old black boy looked at me straight in the eye and said, lady, what future? i ain't got no future. i ain't got nothing to lose. it is time for the black community, for all of us, to prove that boyd's truth wrong -- boy's truth wrong. and to honor the sacrifice of this great prophet of god, who died to help redeem the soul of america. dr. king is not coming back. we are in it. -- we are it. he told us what to do. let's honor him by doing it. god bless.
president and mrs. obama, vice president and dr. biden, jittery salazar, distinguished guests, friends -- secretary salazar, distinguished guests, friends, it is with great pride that i stand here as the 33rd president of alpha phi alpha fraternity, dr. king's fraternity. the idea of a memorial for dr. king was conceived in 1983, where so many ideas are conceived, at the kitchen table, with the group of our fraternity brothers led by dr. george c. lee. many began embracing a single vision led by a group of dynamic past general presidents that are here. i would ask that you stand and be recognized. all brothers of alpha phi alpha stand so that he might be recognized and so that we can link the world for their -- you might be recognized and so that we can thank the world for their support of this great moment. thank you. you may be seated. alpha phi alpha joined with fraternities across the country, federal and local government, people all around the world, all around a common goal, to build a monument
celebrating our borther as -- our brother as a civil rights leader. we knew that our long-held vision would be realized. thank you to all of you who have helped us to arrive here today. thank you, mr. president. thank you, secretary salazar, for your signature. it is my honor, my privilege, and my pleasure, to introduce to you the honorable kenneth salazar, secretary of the interior. [applause] >> thank you, skip. good morning to all of you. on behalf of president barack obama and the united states department of the interior, i am humbled and i am honored to
celebrate with you the birth of dr. martin luther king, jr., memorial, on the national mall, as the nation's 395th national park. [applause] in all of our lives, we have seen and understood the legacy of dr. king, that, as citizens of birth, we are all one people and have a duty to stand up for equality and justice for all. today, the department of the interior and the national parks service have the honor of serving as one of the custodians of america's history. we have a duty to make sure that all of america's story is told, not just a part of it. and with the dedication of this memorial, we are honoring a critical chapter in america's story on the march for civil rights and the struggle to create a more perfect union. dr. king pushed the struggle for people into the consciousness of america and the
world. million's a disenfranchised americans found a new hope, dignity -- millions of disenfranchised americans found a new hope and dignity. as i stand before you today, distinguished audience, my president and first lady, my vice president and his family, leaders of the civil rights movements, members of the king family, members of congress, my colleagues on the cabinet, i know we are all indebted to dr. king and those who spearheaded the civil-rights movement who came before us. they gave those of us in my generation the opportunity that have been denied to generations before them. i know that we are also painfully aware that dr. king's dream of equality and dignity for all people continues to elude to discrimination is the present in communities and places around our country and around this world. it is also at the root of the
decisive battles over immigration -- divisive battles over integration here in america. dr. king's struggle for civil rights continues today and is still very much alive. as we share his dream that one day we will all live in a world where there is dignity, respect, and justice for all with no exceptions. when our grandchildren and children visit this place, this memorial, they will share in dr. king's story, which is the story of america. it is a story that teaches us as individuals, in the face of centuries of injustice, people can summon up the courage to change the world. and in dr. king's own words, i say to you, "my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, i still have a dream. it is a dream deeply rooted in the american dream. in view of my humble vision,
what a pleasure it is to be here with you and to be a part of this magnanimous and most historical day of remembrance for a man who was so great and so lovly. good morning -- lovely. good morning, christine. i am going to sking -- sing something that dr. king often requested. as a matter of fact, you requested it the morning that he was going to -- he requested the morning that he was going to -- for dinner. may we have the track, please? good morning, doctor.
>> god bless aretha franklin. august 28, that week we had a earthquake, and then a lady named irene paid us a visit. and it was indeed a dark day for me. but joy cometh in the morning. and what a glorious morning this is today. as i stand here and look across a transformed landscape, i see a wonderful example of what we can accomplish with this faith and with a stone of hope. we come together today to honor and celebrate the ideals of a humble man who understood that all humanity is linked together. and we come together to
dedicate the martin luther king, jr., a memorial, our memorial, the world's memorial. many of you seated here throughout this day and throughout this country have contributed years of your time, talents, and money, to help us build the memorial we dedicate today. it has been both humbling and uplifting for me to be part of this magnificent undertaking. our hope is that, through this memorial, dr. king's legacy will continue to touch those who walked with him, those inspired by him, and future generations who will get to know him. on behalf of the martin luther king, jr., national memorial foundation, i want to thank everyone for doing so much, so long to help us to arrive at this triumphant day in history.
once more, i also thank you to my family and my staff of the mlk memorial, a small group of folks who have worked tirelessly to make dr. king's dream a reality right here on our national mall. it is with great honor and pleasure that i introduced to you the president of the united states, president barack obama. [applause] >> thank you. thank you so much. thank you very much. [applause] thank you. please be seated.
an earthquake and a hurricane may have delayed this day, but this is a day that would not be denied. for this day we celebrate dr. martin luther king, jr.'s -- return to the national mall. in this place, he will stand for all time, among monuments of those who fathered this nation and those who defended it. a black preacher. no official rank or title. who somehow gave voice toour -- to our deepest dreams and our most lasting ideals. a man who served our conscience, and thereby helped make our union more perfect.
dr. king would be the first to remind us that this memorial is not for him alone. the movement of which he was up part depended on an entire generation of leaders -- a part depended on an entire generation of leaders. many of them are here today. for their service and sacrifice, we all are everlasting gratitude -- owe our everlasting gratitude. this is a monument to your achievement. some giants of the civil rights movement, like rosa parks, dorothy height, rev. fred shovels worth -- shuttlesworth -- they have been taken from us. this monument attest to their strength and their courage -- attests to their strength and their courage. we know they rest in a better
place. there are the multitude of men and women whose names never appeared in the history books. those who marched, sang, sat in, stood firm. those who organized and those who mobilized. all those men and women, who, through quiet acts of heroism, helped bring about changes that few thought or even possible -- were even possible. thousands of faceless, nameless black and white people have brought us back to the foundations of the declaration of independence and the constitution. to those women, to those foot soldiers for justice, know that
this monument is yours as well. nearly half a century has passed since that historic march on washington, a day when thousands upon thousands gathered for jobs and for freedom. that is what our schoolchildren remember best, his booming voice across this mall, calling on america to make freedom for god's children, prophesying of the day when the jangling discords of our natio would be transformed -- discord of our nation would be transformed into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. it is right that we honor that march. that we lived up dr. king's "i have a dream" speech. without that moment, without dr. king's war is words, we might not have had the courage to come as far as we have -- without dr. king's words, we might not have had the courage to come as far as we have.
new doors of opportunity swung open for an entire generation. yes, laws change, but hearts and minds changed as well. look at the bases here and around you and you see an america that is more fair -- faces here around you and you see an america that is more fair and more free and more just than the one dr. king faced that day. slow, but certain progress. progress that expresses itself in large and small ways across this nation every single day. people of every color and creed live together and work together, and fight alongside
one another, and learn together, and build together, and love one another. so, it is right for us to celebrate today dr. king's dream and his vision of unity. and yet, it is also important on this day to remind ourselves that such progress did not come easily. that dr. king's face was hard one -- hard-won. it's run out of some harsh reality and bitter disappointments. it is right for us to celebrate dr. king's moral authority, but it is right to remember that progress did not come from words alone. progress was hard. progress was purchased through enduring the blasts of fire hoses and the smacks of billy clubs.
it was bought with days in gel -- jail cells and nights of bomb threats. there were setbacks and a peak -- and defeats. we forget it now, but dr. king was not always considered a unifying figure. even after rising to prominence, even after winning the nobel peace prize, dr. king was vilified by many, denounced as a rabble rouser and an agitator, a communist and a radical. he was even attacked by his own people, by those he felt he was going -- who felt he was going too fast for those who felt he was going too slow, by those who felt he should not meddle in the vietnam war or with the rights of union workers.
we know from his testimony the pain is caused him, and the controversy that would swirled around his actions -- swirl around his actions would last until the fateful day he died. i raise all this because nearly 50 years after the march on washington, our work, dr. king's work is not yet complete. we gather here at a moment of great challenge and great change. the first decade of this new century, we have been touched by war and by tragedy, by an economic crisis and the aftermath that has left millions out of work and poverty on the rise and millions more struggling to get by. indeed, even before this crisis struck, we had endured a decade
of rising inequality and stagnant wages. and too many troubled neighborhoods across the country, the commission's of our poorest -- conditions of our poorest citizens of pierre little changed -- citizens appear little changed from 50 years ago. inadequate health care, constant violence, neighborhoods in which to many young people grow up with little pope and few -- hope and few prospects for the future. our work is not done. so on this day, we celebrate a man and a movement that this a much for this country, lifted us with strength from the dollar's troubles. let us remember that change is never that quick.
change has never been simple or without controversy. change depends on persistence. change requires determination. it took a full decade before brown vs. education was translated into the measures of the civil rights act and the voting rights act. but those 10 lawyers did not leave dr. king to give up. -- tan long years did not leave dr. king to give up. -- 10 long years did not leave dr. king to give up. even after the civil rights act and the voting rights act passed, african-americans still found themselves trapped in pockets of poverty across the united states. dr. king did not say that those laws were a failure or that it was too hard or to settle for
what we have and go home. takead, he said let's those victories and fight for a living wage and better schools and better jobs for all those were willing to work. when met with hardship, when confronting disappointment, dr. king refused to accept what he called the business of today -- the isness of today. so we must think about all of the work we must do, fixing our schools so that every child, not just some, but every child gets a world-class education, making sure that our health care
system is affordable and accessible to all and that our economic system is one in which everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share. let us not be trapped by what is. we cannot be discouraged by what is. we have to keep pushing for what ought to be, the america that odd to lead our children. the hardships we make are nothing compared to what dr. martin luther king and his followers and did 50 years ago. there is no -- [applause] there is no challenger cannot surmount. just as we draw strength from dr. king's struggles, so must we draw inspiration from his constant insistence on the oneness of man. in his words that we are and a
network. it was that insistence rooted in his christian faith that led him to tell a group of angry young protesters, "i love you as i love my own children," even as a rock glanced off his neck. it was that insistence, that belief that got resides in each of us, from the high to low, in the oppressor and in the oppressed, insistence that people can change, and fortified his belief and nonviolence and permitted to place his faith in a government that was short of ideals, allowed him to seek his charge as not only freeing black americans from the shackles of
discrimination, but also freed many americans from their own prejudices and freeing americans from every color, from the depredations of poverty. at this moment, when our politics appear sharply polarized and faith in our institutions so greatly diminished, we need more than ever to take heed of dr. king's teachings. he called on us to stand in the other person's shoes, to see through their eyes, to understand their pain. he tells us we have a duty to fight against poverty, even if we are well off, to care about the child in the depressive school, even if our own children are doing fine, to show compassion to the immigrant family with the knowledge that most of us are only a few generations removed from similar hardship.
[applause] to say that we are bound together as one people, we must constantly strive to see ourselves in one another. it is not to argue those things the paper over differences. it was true 50 years ago. it has been true trout human history. those with power and privilege will always decry, saying that any changes to the current existence is otherwise. dr. king said that peace without justice was no peace at all. he also understood that to bring about true and lasting
change there must be the possibility of reconciliation, that any social movement has to channel this tension through the spirit of love and mutuality. if he were alive today, i believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of wall street without demonizing all who work there, that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with a union without vilifying the right to collective bargaining. he would want us to know that we can feel fiercely about the proper size of government with the knowledge that, in this democracy, government is known distant object, but an expression of our common commitment to one another.
[applause] he would call on us to assume the best of each other rather than the worst and challenge one another in ways that ultimately he'll rather than wound -- ultimately heal rather than wound. i hope that is what my daughters take away from this monument. i want them to come away from here with the faith in what they can accomplish when they are determined to work for a cause. i want them to come away from you with a faith in other people and a faith in a benevolent god. this statute, as benevolent is, it will remind us of dr. king's strength, but to see him as larger than life is to do them a disservice considering what he taught us about ourselves. he would want them to know that the they will have a setback
because they had setbacks. he wants them to another they will have doubts because they had doubts. they would want them to know that he had lost because we had all have lost. dr. king was a man of flesh and blood and not the figure stone. his life, his story tells us the change can come if you do not give up. he would not give up no matter how long it took because, in the smallest hamlet and the darkest songs, he had witnessed the highest reaches of the human spirit. in those moments when the struggle seemed most hopeless, he had seen men and women and children, for their fear. he had seen hills and mountains made low and rough places made plain and the crooked places made straight and god make a way out of nowhere.
that is why we honor this man. he had faith in us. and that is why he belongs on the small. -- on this mall. he saw what we might become. that is what dr. king was so quintessentially american, because all of the things that we endured, ours is the story of optimism and achievement and constant striving that is unique upon this earth. that is why the rest of the world still looks to us to leave. this is a country where ordinary people find in their hearts the courage to do extraordinary things, the courage to stand up in the face of the fiercest resistance and say this is wrong and this is right. we will not settle for what the senate stella's we ought to accept and we will reach again -- what the cynics tell us we ought to accept and we will reach again and again. that is the conviction we must
carry now when our hearts. as tough as it may be, i know we will overcome. another better days ahead. i know that because of the men towering over us, that because all of he and his generation endured, we have dedicated a monument today to that legacy. with our eyes on the horizon, let us keep striving, let us keep struggling, lettuce keep climbing toward the promised land of a nation and world that is more fair and more just and more equal for every single child of god. thank you. god bless you. and god bless the united states of america. [applause]
atlanta, ga., and the night before i wrote the song, i dream e this being in a drai where we are marching in more in thes holiday, and -- martin luther king's holiday and i knew then. congratulations to the world. [applause] i can't believe it. yes, i can. if you are not clapping your hands, you better come on. ♪
♪ it didn't make much sense ♪ there would be a law against ♪ anyone who took offense ♪ at a day in your celebration is there are no other minds ♪ that there ought to be a time ♪ that we would set aside a time ♪ to show just how much we love you ♪ and i'm sure you would agree have a broad party on the day it came to be ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday ♪ be birthday -- happyhday to you birthday to you
♪ i never understood ♪ how someone who died for good ♪ would not have a day that would ♪ be set aside for his recognition ♪ because it would never be just because some cannot see the dream hot as clear -- ♪ the dream as clear as he ♪ that he would become an allusion kingtin luther ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ be birthday ♪ happy birthday to birthday ♪ happy birthday to you
the day would be a holiday pieces pieces celebrated hongpeace is celebrated -- where peace is celebrated throughout the world ♪ people like me and you who know the truth ♪ it's love and unity ♪ all of god's children ♪ info remembrances of those who lived and died -- in full remembrance ♪ of those who lived and died